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Volume XXIV] October, 1918 {Number 1 



mman Higtfltw a! 1» 



THE EXTRAORDINARY COMMANDS FROM 80 TO 48 B. C. : 
A STUDY IN THE ORIGINS OF THE PRINCIPATE 

THE ultimate basis of the Principate, as established by Augustus, 
was the imperium, unrestricted in its scope, which gave its 
holder the supreme command over the whole army of the empire, 
so that all troops took the military oath of allegiance to him and 
obeyed his orders. 1 The mains imperium which the Princeps held 
was essentially an extraordinary imperium, because of the fact that 
it conferred the sole independent command over all the Roman 
troops, was not limited to any definite area, and, after a short time, 
was freed likewise from any temporal restriction. Mommsen 2 long 
ago pointed out that this was but the culmination of a series of 
extraordinary imperia of a' military nature which had been created 
from time to time during the last century of the republic, and which 
must' be regarded as preparatory steps in the establishment of the 
Principate. In this respect the career of Pompey the Great espe- 
cially foreshadowed that of Augustus. 

It is the purpose of this study to trace the history of these extra- 
ordinary commands from the reforms of Sulla to the victory of 
Caesar at Pharsalia : not only such as fall within Mommsen's classifi- 
cation as the commands of extraordinary military officials, 3 but all 
commands which were extraordinary in that they exceeded in some 
way the imperia of the regularly constituted officials and required 
to be created or defined by a special enactment of the Senate or 
Comitia. It is hoped that the study of these commands in their 
chronological order, apart from other political problems of the time, 

1 Mommsen, Romisches Staatsrecht, vol. II., pt. 2 (third ed.), p. 840 ff. AH 
subsequent references to this work are to the third edition. 

2 Staatsrecht, vol. II., pt. 1, p. 662. 

3 Ibid. 

AM. HIST. REV., VOL. XXIV. — I. (l) 



2 A. E. R. Book 

will help to bring into clearer light the essentially military character 
of the foundations of the Principate. 

For the purpose in view it will be found convenient to consider 
separately the following periods: (I.) 80-70 B. C. ; (II.) 70-60 
B.C.; (III.) 60-48 B.C. 

I. The Extraordinary Commands under Senatorial Control, 

80-70 B. C. 

Before the reorganization of the Roman governmental system 
effected by Sulla in the years 81 and 80 B. C, it had been the regular 
custom for the consuls, in virtue of their imperium militiae, to under- 
take any military operations required by circumstances arising within 
or without the empire during their term of office. The exercise of 
this power had been restricted in some degree by the creation of the 
provincial governorships, whose holders had authority to deal with 
such wars as were confined within the limits of their respective 
spheres, but even within these provinces the consul could exercise 
his maius imperium when occasion demanded. Thus the conduct 
of wars with other peoples was a recognized part of the consul's 
duties, and, if he who first undertook the command failed to end 
the affair, the consul of the following year succeeded to the com- 
mand of the army in the field, unless the former was retained beyond 
his regular term, as a proconsul. The determination of the consular 
provinciae had come to be entirely in the hands of the Senate, 4 and 
up to 123 B. C. they had been decided upon after the election of 
the consuls. The Lex Sempronia {de provinciis consularibus) of 
that year weakened the senatorial control by requiring that these 
provinciae be fixed prior to the elections, although the Senate's au- 
thority was recognized by a provision forbidding the use of the veto 
on the senatorial assignments. 5 

But the vicissitudes of war had forced the Romans to depart at 
times from their regular system. For example, in 211 B. C. Publius 
Cornelius Scipio, who had not yet held any magistracy, in place of 
one of the consuls, as they were needed for the conduct of the war 
in Italy, was entrusted with the command in Spain with the imperium 
of a proconsul, by a special law of the Comitia Centuriata. 6 In 147 
B. C. Scipio Aemilianus, then consul elect, received the command 
in the war against Carthage by a special vote of the people, 7 and in 

*Livy,XXI. 17 (218 B. C). 

5 Sallust, Jugurtha, 27 ; Cicero, Pro Domo, 9, 24 ; De Provinciis Consularibus, 

8,17. 

eLivy, XXVI. 18; XXVIII. 43, "• 
'Appian, Libyca, 112. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 3 

the same way Marius, consul for 107, had been appointed to conduct 
the war against Jugurtha. 8 In the first case we have to do with the 
creation of an extraordinary office, and in the last two with the 
usurpation by the Comitia of the Senate's right to fix the consular 
provinces. 

Military necessities had likewise brought about the four suc- 
cessive consulships of Marius, and the danger of such a prolonged 
military command, over an army of professional soldiers, in the 
hands of the first magistrate, had been revealed by the union of the 
popular demagogues with the soldiers' idol, which caused the tem- 
porary success of Saturninus and Glaucia, and the sixth consulship 
of Marius. That the value of such an important military command 
in conjunction with the consulship was fully recognized by Roman 
political parties is shown by the struggle between Marius and Sulla 
for the command in the Mithradatic War in 88 B. C, when the 
former actually succeeded in having a law passed which conferred 
the command upon him, although he was then a privatus. 9 In 83 
Sulla demonstrated more clearly than ever that the successful gen- 
eral was master of the political situation. Thus the problem of the 
command in every war of any considerable magnitude was almost 
certain to contain a latent danger to the security of the Senate's 
control of the state. 

This fact cannot have escaped the notice of Sulla, when he en- 
deavored to place the Senate once more firmly in the saddle, and 
the study of the extraordinary commands during the decade follow- 
ing his abdication of the dictatorship will show what measures, if 
any, he took to protect the Senate against the rise of an ambitious 
general of the opposing faction, while it may also throw light upon 
what limitations were placed upon the exercise of the imperium 
militiae by the consuls in office. 

(a) The Command of Pompey in Sicily and in Africa, 82-jrp B. C. 

The decade 80-70 B. C. opens with an extraordinary command 
that had originated during the struggle between Sulla and the party 
of Marius, namely that of Cnaeus Pompey in Africa, which won him 
the honor of a triumph on March 12, 79 B. C. 10 The origin and 
precise nature of this command are not very clearly indicated in our 
sources. Apparently, up to 82 B. C, Pompey was merely in the 
position of commander of the forces which he had raised by his own 
efforts, without any official warrant for his authority, but gladly 

8 Sallust, Jug., 73, 7; 84, 1. 

9 Appian, De Bellis Civilitnts, I. 56. 

i° Granius Licinianus, 36; Livy, Periochae, 89; CIL. (second ed.), I. 178. 



4 A. E. R. Book 

welcomed by Sulla and acting under his orders. However, in that 
year, while Sulla remained in Italy, Pompey received a commission 
to carry on the war in Sicily and, later, in Africa. He now exer- 
cised an imperium bestowed by a decree of the Senate. 11 This 
imperium was that of a propraetor, 12 but he himself was as yet a 
mere equestrian, having held no magistracy. 13 Still, the conferment 
of imperium upon a privatus was, as we have seen, not without pre- 
cedent, and in the turmoil of the civil war would have passed with 
little comment had not Pompey insisted on a triumph. 14 The novel 
feature of his appointment was that it was made by the Senate with- 
out any participation by the Comitia. However, few could have 
thought of it as the first of a long series of extraordinary commands 
which had such fatal consequences for the senatorial regime. 

(b) Pompey's Command against Lepidus, 77 B. C. 

After a brief interval, in JJ B. C, Pompey received his second 
extraordinary command, on the occasion of the revolt of Lepidus 
against the Senate. Plutarch 15 tells us that Pompey, throwing in 
his lot with the Senate, was appointed o-Tparev/uxTos ^ye/wov against 
Lepidus. Our other sources merely record his part in the struggle 
without reference to his appointment or position. We have to de- 
termine, therefore, whether Pompey actually held an imperium, and, 
if so, what it was. One might suppose that Pompey was merely a 
legatus of Catulus, who was proconsul and the senatorial commander. 
The Senate, as is well known, had control of the appointments of 
legati until 59 B. C., 16 and his was a senatorial commission. But 
if such were the case it seems likely that Plutarch would have 
styled him woorpemryos or irpetr/Sevs ." Further, in view of the fact 
that Pompey had just recently enjoyed a propraetorian imperium, it 
is hardly likely that he would have been content with a post of 
lesser rank. 

We may conclude then that the senate, having need of an ex- 
perienced general such as Pompey already was, and fearing that he 

11 " Cum imperio, a senatu missus ", Livy, Per., 89 ; Sbypm ervyxXfrov, Plutarch, 
Pompey, 11. 

12 Gran. Licin., 36 : " eques Romanus, quod nemo ante propraetore ex Africa 
triumphavit IV Idus Martias ". 

is Livy, Per., 89 : " adhuc eques Romanus, quod nulli contigerat, ex Africa tri- 
umphavit ". 

1* From the references quoted it will be seen that this is what created the 
greatest impression at the time; cf. Plut., Pomp., 14. 

15 Pomp., 16. 

18 Cicero, In Vatinium, 15, 35. 

it As in Pomp., 25. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 5 

might join the popular party, sought to bind him more firmly to their 
interests by giving him a command when he attached himself to their 
cause. His imperium would naturally be defined. That it was not 
proconsular is certain, for he was under the orders of Catulus, at 
least nominally. 18 Most probably, therefore, it was a command 
pro praetore. The most important features of this appointment are 
that it was again as a privatus that Pompey received his command, 
and that he was given it by the Senate. 

(c) Pompey 's Command against Sertorius in Spain, 77-71 B. C. 

In the same year Pompey received his third extraordinary com- 
mand, regarding which we have fuller information than in the pre- 
ceding cases. The war against Sertorius in Spain was going badly 
for the Romans. Metellus, who had been sent out while consul to 
Hispania Ulterior in 80 B. C. and who had remained there as 
proconsul, failed to make any headway. 19 In 79 B. C. Domitius 
Ahenobarbus, the praetor governing Hispania Citerior with pro- 
consular rank, had fallen in battle. 20 Lucius Manlius, the proconsul 
from Narbo, coming to the help of Metellus, met the same fate. 21 
The despatch of a new commander was an imperative necessity. 
It was considered the duty of the consuls to go, 22 but they refused. 23 
Then Pompey, eager for new laurels, sought the command. He had 
refused to disband his army at the orders of Catulus, and at the head 
of his troops awaited the answer to his demand. 21 In spite of con- 
siderable opposition within their ranks, the senators, on the motion 
of Lucius Philippus, passed a decree conferring the command 
upon him. 25 

Thus Pompey, while still a mere eques, 26 was entrusted with pro- 
consular imperium for the conduct of a serious war. Although exer- 
cising this imperium pro consule, 27 equal with that of Metellus, 28 
he had not the title proconsul. Indeed, as was remarked sarcastically 

is Pomp., 17. 

is Appian, B. C, I. 97 ; Valerius Maximus, 9, 3, 9. 

20 Sallust, Hist., I. 111 ; Plut., Sertorius, 12 ; Eutropius, VI. 1 ; Liv., Per., 90. 

21 Plut., Sert., 12 ; Liv., Per., 90. 

22 Cic, Pro Lege Manilia, 21, 62. 

2 » Ibid.; Philippica, XI. 8, 18: " consules recusabant ". 
24 Plut., Pomp., 17. 

23 Cic, Pro Leg. Man., 21, 62; Phil., XI. 8, 18. 

26 Locc. citt.; Liv., Per., 91; Plut., Pomp., 17. 

27 [Aurel. Vict.], De Viris Illustrious, in calling Pompey praetor with pro- 
consular imperium, has in mind the constitutional position of the regular gover- 
nors in Spain. Liv., Per., 91, erroneously has imperium consulare. 

28 Valerius Maximus, VIII. 15, 8: "pari imperio cum Pio Metello principe 
civitatis ". 



6 A. E. R. Boak 

in the Senate, he went pro consulibus, non pro consule. 29 His pro- 
vincia is not specifically recorded. Cicero merely says that Pompey 
was entrusted with the helium Sertorianum, so while Plutarch de- 
scribes him as MtreXA^ fiwjOos. 31 However, it seems beyond question 
that Pompey's provincia was Hither Spain, for no successor was sent 
to the slain Domitius, and Metellus, governor of the other province, 
remained in Spain until a few months before the return of Pompey 
himself in 71. 33 

It is interesting to compare this command of Pompey, the first 
of its kind created under the Sullan " constitution " regarding which 
we have definite information, with the command conferred upon 
Publius Cornelius Scipio in 211 B. C, for the latter doubtless 
served as a precedent for Pompey's appointment. Both men had 
previously distinguished themselves as soldiers, but Pompey had 
commanded armies, while Scipio was a mere tribunus militum. 
Neither, however, had as yet held any magistracy. In both cases 
the appointments were occasioned by the defeat of Roman armies 
in Spain, where they found their sphere of operations. Their 
imperia were the same — proconsular. But there were some striking 
differences in the way in which the commands were obtained. 
Scipio volunteered his services as a simple burgess; Pompey de- 
manded his appointment, with an army at his back. A still greater 
contrast appears in the authorities conferring these commands. 
Scipio received his by a lex of the Comitia Centuriata; Pompey's 
was created by a senatus consultum without any sanction by the 
populus. Yet the legality of the latter was never questioned. 

(d) The Commands of Lucullus and Cotta in 14 B. C. 

Nicomedes III., king of Bithynia, died in the fall of 75 B. C. 33 
and left his kingdom to the Romans. 34 Meanwhile Mithradates, 
king of Pontus, having reorganized his forces after his defeat at 
Sulla's hands, was in correspondence with Sertorius and preparing 
to renew his attack of 88 B. C. upon the Roman power in Asia. 35 
The war began in the spring of 74, while Lucullus and Cotta were 
the consuls at Rome. 86 The consular provinces for the following 

29 Cic, Phil., XI. 8, 18. 
so Ibid. 

31 Pomp., 17 ; Appian, Iberica, 76, wrongly calls him the successor of Metellus. 

32 Drumann-Groebe, Geschickte Roms, IV. 392. 

S3 On the question of the year, cf. Maurenbrecher, Sallusti Historiae, II. 228. 
3* Appian, B. C, I. m ; Liv., Per., 93- 

35 Appian, De Bella Mithridatico, 70 ; Plut., Serf., 23 ; Eutrop., VI. 6. 

36 Maurenbrecher, Sail. Hist., loc. cit. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 7 

year had been allotted already and Lucullus had obtained Cisalpine 
Gaul. 37 But as there was prospect of a war of considerable magni- 
tude arising in Asia Minor he was anxious to be transferred there 
and to be entrusted with the command so as to win a reputation that 
would offset the renown that Pompey was acquiring in Spain. 38 
At this juncture word came that Octavius, the proconsul of Cilicia, 
was dead. 39 At once Lucullus sought to have his proconsular com- 
mand transferred to that province, and, having won over to his side 
Cethegus, the political " boss " of the day, not only attained his im- 
mediate object, but also had the conduct of the war against Mithra- 
dates placed in his hands. 40 At the same time his colleague Cotta 
received a minor command. 

Lucullus and Cotta received their commands from the Senate. 41 
Cotta was sent to Bithynia to protect the Hellespont, 42 while to 
Lucullus were entrusted the main operations — " ut Mithridatem per- 
sequeretur ". 43 The provinces of Cilicia and Asia were placed under 
his authority. 44 He was likewise authorized to take one legion from 
Italy, and to assume command of the two Fimbrian legions still in 
Asia. A fleet was also placed at his disposal. 45 

The consuls proceeded to their commands during their term of 
office : therefore with consular imperium. i<s But for the year 73 and 
subsequently they were proconsuls and had the imperium pro- 
consular e.* 1 

The power of Lucullus at its height in 70 B. C. is worthy of 
attention. He had a fleet and an army, and governed practically 
the whole of Asia Minor, including Asia, Cilicia, and the newly 
acquired Bithynia. Cotta had only operated on the coast and went 
home after taking Heraclea in 70 B. C. 48 

The noteworthy features of these two commands are that they 

s? Plut., Luc, 5. 

^ Ibid. Pompey was also threatening to return with his legions, Pomp,, 20. 
30 Plut., Luc, 6. 

40 Ibid. ; Cic., Paradoxa, V. 3, 40. 

*i Cic, Academica Priora, II. 1, 1 : " ad Mithridaticum bellum missus a 
senatu " ; Memnon, Fg., c. 37. 

•*2 Memnon, loc cit.; Plut., Luc, 6; Cic, Pro Murena, 15, 33. 

43 Cic, Pro Murena, 15, 33. 

44 For Cilicia see above. In Asia no successor was appointed to Marcus 
Junius, propraetor in 75, and Lucullus reorganized the taxation there in 70 B. C. 
Plut., Luc, 20, 23 ; App., B. M., 83 ; Velleius Paterculus, II. 33 ; Cic, Acad. Pr., 
II. 1, 3 ; Pro Flacco, 85. 

« App., B. M., 76 ; Plut., Luc, 6, 12. 

4 "Liv., Per., 93, 94; Cic, Pro Mur., 15, 33; App., B. M., 72; Maurenbrecher, 
Sail. Hist., II. 228 ; " consulari imperio ", Cic, Pro Flacco, 34, 85. 
" Liv., Per., 95. 
*8 Memnon, Fg., 51. 



8 A. E. R. Boak 

were entrusted by the Senate to the two consuls, and that the latter 
undertook them during their term of office. Our sources do not 
comment upon this as an unusual or unconstitutional proceeding. 

(e) The Command of Antonius against the Pirates, J '4 B. C. 

In the year in which the consuls Lucullus and Cotta went to the 
East to carry on war against Mithradates, the strength of the pirates 
in the Mediterranean caused a special effort to be made to crush 
them. For this purpose an extraordinary command was created, 
which, in the absence of the consuls, was conferred upon a praetor, 
Marcus Antonius, through the influence of Cotta and the faction of 
Cethegus. 49 

Antonius received this command by a senatorial decree, 50 by 
which he was authorized to war against the pirates along the whole 
coast line of the Mediterranean. 51 His command, almost free from 
territorial limitations, extending as it did over the whole sea and its 
shores, was called an imperium infinitum, 52 a term which appeared 
then for the first time in the history of the extraordinary commands. 
An inscription from Epidaurus, reading Mapxov 'Avtovlov rov «rt rmv 
[irdv]Tmv or/oaTTjyov gives the Greek interpretation of his imperium. 53 
The conception of the imperium infinitum associated with the idea 
of the command at sea was destined to play a very important role in 
the growth of the extraordinary commands. 

As a praetor, Antonius must have exercised a praetorian im- 
perium, which would have made him equal in rank with the proprae- 
tors in the provinces, but subordinate to such governors as had pro- 
consular imperium, including Pompey and Lucullus. 

(/) The Command of Crassus against Spartacus, 72 B. C. 

The insurrection of the gladiators and slaves in southern Italy, 
which had broken out in 73 B. C., 54 had assumed alarming propor- 

* 9 [Asconius] in Verr. II., p. 206; Veil. Pat., II. 31, 3. 

50 Locc. citt. 

51 [Ascon.] in Verr. I., 60, p. 176: " tota ora maritima"; Lactantius, I. 11 ; 
Schol. ad Juv., VIII. 105 : " ora maritima qua Romanorum esset imperium " ; cf. 
[Ascon.] in Verr. II., p. 206. 

52 Cic, In Verrem, actio secunda, II. 3, 8 : " post M. Antoni infinitum illud 
imperium"; III. 91, 213: " ita se in isto infinite imperio M. Antonium gessisse " ; 
Lact., I. 1 1 ; " curatio infinita ", [Ascon.] in Verr. I., 60. 

53 IG., IV. 932, 1, 25. That this inscription refers to the Antonius in ques- 
tion and not to his father of the same name (as Frankel, in IG.) seems clearly 
proven by Wilhelm, Beitrage zur Gr. Inschriftenkunde (Vienna, 1909), P- "4- 

5* Cic., Ad Atticum, VI. 2, 8 ; De Haruspicum Responsis, 25 ; Liv., Per., 95 ; 
App., B. C, I. 116, 539; Veil. Pat., II. 30, 5; Plut., Crass., 8; Flor., II. 8, 3; 
Orosius, V. 21, 1. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 9 

tions in the following year. Spartacus, the leader of the gladiators, 
had defeated both consuls, Lentulus and Gellius, as well as a pro- 
consul and two praetors who exercised subordinate commands. 55 
The situation in 72 was accordingly so serious that the Senate re- 
called the consuls from the field to make room for a new com- 
mander. 56 Their choice fell upon the praetor Marcus Licinius 
Crassus, who, when all others shrank from the task, volunteered his 
services. 57 

As we have no information to the contrary, we must conclude 
that the imperium of Crassus was praetorian, in accordance with his 
magisterial rank. His sphere of operations was the conduct of the 
war against the gladiators, 58 and thus the duration of his command 
was loosely indicated. The forces at his disposal were six new 
legions, in addition to the consular legions already in the field. 59 

Crassus received his commission from the Senate. 60 The cir- 
cumstances under which he was appointed show that it was the 
ordinary procedure for the consuls to exercise the military imperium 
within the Italian peninsula, but also that it was within the power 
of the Senate to supersede them in favor of another general of their 
own choosing. The extraordinary nature of the command of Cras- 
sus, therefore, consists in his appointment while a praetor, when 
there were consuls still in office. Had there been no consuls in Italy 
at the time, then the command would naturally have devolved upon 
one of the praetors. 

From the preceding survey of the extraordinary commands from 
80 to 70 B. C. we obtain the following results. Three times a private 
citizen, once the two consuls, and twice a praetor were entrusted 
with extraordinary imperia. These commands they received from 
the Senate alone, without any expression of the will of the Comitia. 
The Senate defined the commands as well as created and appointed 
to them. In point of time the commands of this decade were not 
definitely restricted, but as they were created for specific purposes 
they naturally terminated when these military objects were attained. 
The consuls were able to undertake such commands outside of 

ssApp., B. C, I. 117; Liv., Per., 96; Plut., Crass., g. The proconsul was C. 
Cassius, governor of Cisalpine Gaul. 

56 Oros., V. 24, 5; Plut., Crass., 10. For the date, 72 B. C, cf. Drumann- 
Groebe, IV. 91. 

"App., B. C, I. 118. 

58 Liv., Per., 96 : " idque bellum M. Crasso praetori mandatum est " ; Plut., 
Crass., 10. 

69 App., B. C, I. 118; Oros., V. 24, 5. 

60 Plut., Crass., 10; Oros., loc. cit. 



io A. E. R. Boak 

Italy and, indeed, were looked upon as the first persons to be con- 
sidered when such nominations were made. Within Italy itself the 
consuls exercised the imperium militiae when need arose, as a matter 
of course, without this being considered as an extraordinary com- 
mand. Consequently we are obliged to conclude that Sulla had 
passed no law making the consulship a purely civil office. 61 How- 
ever, in practice, the consuls were not regularly employed for over- 
seas campaigns, and, as there was little opportunity for the exercise 
of their military imperium within the boundaries of the peninsula, 
practically, if not theoretically, their duties were almost exclusively 
of a civil character. 62 The idea of the consular imperium as higher 
than that of all provincial governors still remained ; likewise the view 
that the consuls could exercise this outside of Italy. 63 The consuls 
had not lost the imperium militiae ei although it tended to become 
a dormant right. And so when they were called upon to exercise it 
outside of Italy, they did so by virtue of a special senatorial decree 
which gave them what was really an extraordinary command. 
Even in Italy the exercise of the imperium by the consuls might be 
suspended by the Senate in favor of an extraordinary commander. 

Accordingly, we see that the Senate was in possession of an ap- 
parently unchallenged right to select any person it chose to exercise 
military imperium in any sphere determined by itself. The question, 
then, arises, "Did the Senate acquire this power by one of Sulla's 
laws ? " At any rate we have no mention of such an enactment. But 
the creation of extraordinary imperia had previously been a pre- 
rogative of the Comitia and the action of the Senate was at least 
contrary to precedent. 65 Possibly it may have been looked upon as 
a development of the power of the Senate over the allotment of the 
provinces. 

The object of the Senate's action is not far to seek. By exer- 
cising a free choice in the appointment of a commander the Senate 
was able to avoid entrusting an important campaign to an incapable 
consul and could utilize the services of the best general or generals 
at its disposal. Furthermore, it hoped in this way to be able to 
prevent a suspected opponent, especially if a consul, from obtaining 
a command that might give him the power to undermine the Senate's 

si As Marquardt, Staatsverwaltung, I. 378. 

62 This is the view of Pelham, Outlines of Roman History, p. 238, note 3. 

63 Cic, Phil., IV. 9: "in consulis jure et imperio debent esse provinciae"; 
Ad Att., VIII. 15: " consules, quibus more majorum concessum est, vel omnes 
adire provincias ". 

e* As Mommsen implies, Staatsr., vol. II., pt. 1, p. 654; vol. II., pt. 2, p. 846; 
cf. I. 57- 

65 Mommsen, Staatsr., vol. II., pt. 1, p. 658. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 1 1 

influence. Doubtless the Senate expected its appointees quietly to 
resign their commands at its behest. The question was, could it 
retain this power over the extraordinary commands and would its 
commanders always prove subservient to its authority. 

Finally, we have noted the first appearance of an imperium in- 
finitum in the shape of an extraordinary command at sea, a sphere 
which, with the lapse of the active exercise of the consuls' military 
imperium, stood outside of any permanent command. 66 

II. The Rivalry of the Senate and the Comitia for the Con- 
trol of the Extraordinary Commands, 70-60 B. C. 

Before taking up the extraordinary commands of this period it is 
necessary to call attention to the restoration of the tribunician power, 
which Sulla had so narrowly restricted. By the Lex Aurelia of 75 
B. C. the law which made the tribunate a bar to other offices was 
revoked, 67 and, in the consulate of Pompey and Crassus, 70 B. C, 
this office recovered the remainder of the rights of which it had 
been deprived, including the power to initiate legislation. 68 This was 
destined to prove a very important factor in the creation of future 
extraordinary commands. 

(a) The Command of Pompey against the Pirates, 6/ B. C. 

Marcus Antonius, the praetor, who, as we have seen, had been 
sent with an extraordinary command against the pirates in 74, had 
failed to accomplish anything before his death in 72. 69 The ravages 
of these corsairs subsequently extended so widely and the damage 
they inflicted upon commerce was so great that Rome was again 
obliged to take action against them. The result was that Pompey, 
now the recognized leader of the popular party, was appointed to 
sweep the pirates from the seas. 

This extraordinary command of Pompey was created by a law 
proposed by the tribune Aulus Gabinius, 70 to appoint a single com- 
mander against the pirates, 71 which was passed after considerable 
opposition from the senatorial faction. 72 Although this law did not 
name the person upon whom this command was to be conferred, 

•• Momm., Staatsr., vol. II., pt. i, p. 654. 
87 Ascon. in Cornel., pp. 66, 67. 

«s Liv., Per., 97 ; Veil. Pat., II. 30 ; Plut., Pomp., 22. 
«» Liv., Per., 97. 

™ Liv., Per., 99 ; Plut., Pomp., 25 ; Dio, XXXVI. 23-24. 

71 Cic, Pro Leg. Man., 17, 52: "lex de uno imperatore contra piratos con- 
stituendo " ; Dio, XXXVI. 23 : arpaTirybv tva airoKpiropa i(j> y Siravras airoAs. 
ii Dio, XXXVI. 24 ; Plut., Pomp., 25. 



12 A. E. R. Boak 

only restricting the appointment to persons of consular rank, 73 yet 
the opinion of the voters was so clearly expressed in a contio that 
the choice of Pompey was a certainty. 74 His actual nomination to 
the command was made in a senatus consultant, 75 in accordance with 
the terms of the law. 

Pompey's provincia was defined by the Gabinian law as embrac- 
ing the whole sea within the Pillars of Hercules and all Roman ter- 
ritory to a distance of fifty miles inland, including the islands. 76 
The appointment was for three years and carried with it extensive 
powers. 77 These included the right to select legati of senatorial 
rank, to raise money in addition to what he received from the 
quaestors, and to use his discretion in recruiting soldiers and men 
for his fleet. 78 The number of legati was at first fixed at fifteen but 
was later raised to twenty-four; likewise the naval contingent was 
increased from 200 to 500 ships ; and two quaestors were attached 
to his command. These additions were made through a law of the 
Comitia. 79 

The extent of Pompey's provincia naturally brought his imperium 
into conflict with that of the provincial governors : hence it required 
precise definition. Accordingly it was defined as equal with the 
imperia of the provincial governors of proconsular rank, "imperium 
aequum in omnibus provinciis cum proconsulibus ". 80 With con- 
siderable exaggeration Plutarch calls it a " monarchy " and " an 
absolute universal authority". Like the command of Antonius in 
74, it was also an imperium infinitum and may be fully defined as an 
imperium infinitum aequum. Mommsen 81 thought of it as the old 
unlimited consular imperium with the restriction that on the coasts 
of the empire it was equal to that of the rulers of the provinces in 
question, but not superior. However, that interpretation does not 
seem quite satisfactory, for, although the extent of Pompey's pro- 
vincia recalls the old sphere of the consul's activities, nevertheless 
not only in the provinces but also in Italy 82 and undoubtedly at sea 

73 Dio, loc. cit.; Cic, Pro Leg. Man., 17, 52. 

'* Plut., Pomp., 25 ; Dio, loc. cit. 

'5 Veil. Pat., II. 31, 3; Dio, XXXVI. 37. 

?6App., B. M., 94; Veil. Pat., II. 31, 3; Plut., Pomp., 25; Dio. XXXVI. 36a 
and 37, 1. 

" Dio, XXXVI. 23 ; App., B. M., 94. 

78 App., B. M., 94, gives 6000 Attic talents as the amount received from the 
treasury ; Plut., Pomp., 25 ; Dio, XXXVI. 23-24. 

f» Plut., Pomp., 25, who gives the troops at his disposal as 120,000 foot and 
5000 horse. 

80 Veil. Pat., II. 31, 3, who points out the analogy between this command and 
that of Antonius seven years before; Dio, XXXVI. 37, 1. 

81 Staatsr., II. 654. 

82 Dio, XXXVI. 37. 1. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 13 

it was only an imperium pro consule. The best evidences that it was 
an imperium aequum and not mains are the refusals of Metellus, 
proconsul in Crete, 83 and Piso in Gaul 84 to submit to Pompey's orders. 

(b) The Command of Pompey in the East, 66 B. C. 

Within three months after the passing of the Gabinian law 
Pompey had completed his task of clearing the Mediterranean of 
pirates. 85 But the war with Mithradates and Armenia still lingered 
on. Lucullus, owing to the mutiny of his troops, had been unable 
to carry out his plans and the enemy had begun to recover lost 
ground. 86 Besides he had offended the capitalist class by his reor- 
ganization of the tribute of Asia. Already he had been superseded 
in the command of Asia, Bithynia, and Cilicia, and now a move- 
ment was on foot to take away the remnants of his power. 87 This 
was finally accomplished in 66 B. C. by a law of the tribune Man- 
ilius, 88 which transferred the command of Lucullus to Pompey, 
much to the dissatisfaction of the senatorial party. 

This Manilian law extended the provincia of Pompey by the 
addition of the command against Mithradates and Tigranes, of the 
territory still under the authority of Lucullus, of Bithynia where 
Glabrio was governor, and of Cilicia. 89 Two years of the time 
allotted for the command against the pirates had still to run, so the 
powers he had acquired by the Gabinian law had not lapsed. For 
the new command no specific limit was set. 

Pompey's imperium remained as before, em rijs 6/Was e£ovo-ias, as 
Appian expresses it. 90 But he now received the general power to 
make peace or war wherever he wished, 91 and in Plutarch 92 his posi- 
tion appears as the concentration of the whole power of the state in 
one hand. 

8 3 Liv., Per., 99 ; Plut., Pomp., 29. 

8< Dio, XXXVI. 37, 2. 

85 Plut., Pomp., 28. 

s« Plut., Luc, 34 and 35. 

87 Ibid., 33. 

ssCic, Pro Leg. Man.; Veil. Pat., II. 33; Liv., Per., 100; Plut., Pomp., 
30; Luc, 35; Dio, XXXVI. 42-43. 

8» Liv., Per., 100; Veil. Pat., II. 33; App., B. M., 97; Plut., Pomp., 30; Luc, 
35 ; Dio, XXXVI. 42. 

»o B. M„ 97. 

« Ibid. : atWoKpdTopa tvra, ftrfl 0Ao«, avvrWeaOal re ml TroKe/uiv, ml <pt\ovs t) 
ToXe/ilovs 'Pw/iatois ofls SoKifi&rete woie?<r$cu. 

MPomp., 30. 



14 A. E. R. Book 

(b) The Proposed Land Commission of Servilius Rullus, 64-63 B. C. 

While Pompey was absent in the East several attempts were 
made by other prominent leaders of the popular party to secure for 
themselves extraordinary commands to counterbalance his increas- 
ing power. 

The first of these attempts, regarding which the details are ob- 
scure, had something to do with Egypt, and seems to have been the 
result of a coalition between Caesar and Crassus. In 65 B. C. 
Crassus made an unsuccessful attempt to enroll Egypt and Cyprus 
among the Roman provinces, on the basis of the alleged will of Alex- 
ander, king of Egypt, who died in 81 B. C. 93 

With this move of Crassus coincides an attempt on the part of 
Julius Caesar to obtain an extraordinary imperium by a plebiscite 
presented by some of the tribunes to assign Egypt to him as his 
province. 84 This proposition likewise failed because of the vehement 
opposition of the opposite faction. But in the following year the 
same men launched a still more ambitious project. 

This was contained in the land law introduced by the tribune 
P. Servilius Rullus. The agitation for this measure had begun 
shortly after the consular elections in 64, and its definite provisions 
were known after the tribunician elections of the same year. 95 It 
was opposed by Cicero in his De Lege Agraria of January 1, 63, and 
was subsequently withdrawn. 96 Although this proposal failed to 
become law, the extraordinary command which it aimed to create 
deserves attention. 

This extraordinary command was to be vested in a land com- 
mission of ten members, 97 to be elected from candidates of prae- 
torian rank who should announce their own candidature. The elec- 
tion was to take place in a special Comitia of seventeen tribes, 
whom Rullus should choose by lot. 98 By these means Pompey would 
be excluded from the list of candidates and the conduct of the elec- 
tions placed in the hands of the authors of the law. No names 
were proposed by Rullus, but all were aware that the scheme was 
concocted in the interests of Crassus and Caesar, and that they 
would be the dominating members of the commission. 99 

The term of office for the commissioners was to be five years. 

as Cic, De Lege Agraria, II. 17, 44; Plut., Crass., 13. 

94 Suetonius, Julius, n. 

95 December 10. Cic, De Leg. Agr., II. 5, 11 and 13; Plut., Cic, 12. 

96 Cic., In Pisonem, 2, 4; Plut, Cic, 12. 

87 Plut., loc. cit. 

88 Cic, De Leg. Agr., II. 7, 16 and 18; 8, 21 ; 12, 31. 
99 Cic, op. cit., I. 1, 1 ; I. 5, 16; II. 17, 44 and 46. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 15 

Their powers were very extensive, including the right to sell the 
ager publicus in Italy, Syria, and Pompey's recent conquests, to 
exercise judicial authority, to confiscate lands, to found colonies, to 
receive funds from the treasury, and to enroll and maintain as many 
soldiers as they required. 100 They were also to be provided with 
two hundred aides from the equestrian order. 101 It was also sus- 
pected that the backers of this measure intended to stretch their 
authority over Egypt, on the pretext of the will of King Alexander. 102 
The effect of this measure would have been to place in the hands 
of the ten commissioners an imperium or military command effective 
both in Italy and in the provinces, backed by an unlimited army, the 
maintenance of which was guaranteed by the revenues they would 
control, and supported by the right of civil jurisdiction. The mili- 
tary character of this board was but thinly veiled by its nominal duty 
of disposing of the public land. However, the attack upon the Sen- 
ate's prerogative of administering the latter, as well as the general 
mistrust of the purposes of such a measure, caused such a strong 
opposition that its sponsors recognized their defeat without bringing 
the matter to a vote. 

The most striking change that appears in this period with re- 
gard to the extraordinary commands is that the Comitia asserted and 
made good its right to create such commands. Not only this, but 
it also exercised the power of enlarging the sphere of an imperium 
already established, in conferring upon Pompey the command 
against Mithradates in addition to that against the pirates. From 
another point of view this action is the exercise of the right to de- 
pose a senatorial commander and transfer his command to another 
officer already in the field. It is true that the actual appointment 
was still made by the Senate, but the Comitia defined the number 
and the qualifications of the appointees. In the case of the proposed 
land commission, the members were to have been elected, but here 
there was no violation of precedent, for this commission could claim 
to be of the same character as the Hlviri agris assignandis dandis 
created in 133 B. C, who were elected by the Comitia. The unusual 
feature here was the clothing of such commissioners with military 
authority, which gave them an extraordinary imperium. 

The bitter opposition which the Senate offered to the Gabinian 
law 103 shows that they regarded it as a violation of senatorial rights, 

100 Cic, op. cit., II. 15 ; Plut, Cic, 12. 

101 Plut., Ioc. cit. 

102 Cic, De Leg. Agr., I. 1, 1 ; 2, 16, 41 ; II. 17, 44. 
los Dio, XXXVI. 23 ff. 



1 6 A. E. R. Boak 

and saw in it a deathblow to the retention of the control of the ex- 
traordinary commands in the hands of the Senate. 

The command of Pompey in 67 was limited to three years, and 
the proposed land commission was to hold power for five. Thus 
we find that the idea had developed of fixing a definite limit for 
the duration of such commands. This is perhaps an indication that 
the extraordinary imperia were coming to be looked upon as pro- 
magistracies and, like these, tenable for definite terms only. How- 
ever, it may be simply a proof that the idea of an imperium unlimited 
in time was beginning to cause wide-spread suspicion and alarm. 

The history of the second decade following the death of Sulla 
is dominated by the personality of Pompey, and there can be no 
doubt that his aims were the determining factors in the creation of 
the extraordinary commands of the time. His policy seems to 
have aimed at securing for himself the conduct of all important mili- 
tary operations carried on by the Roman state, and to leave no 
opportunities for rivals to acquire military renown. Seeing that the 
Senate would not fall in with his views, he turned to the popular 
party. By restoring to the tribunate the power of initiating legis- 
lation he both won the support of the populares and made the trib- 
unate an instrument for carrying out his ideas. 104 Thus it was the 
alliance of the general and the demagogue which wrested from the 
Senate the control of the extraordinary commands. But what this 
method could accomplish for one commander, it could also accom- 
plish for his rival, as the following years were to show. 105 

III. The Rival Commands of Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus, 

60-48 B. C. 

(a) Caesar's Command in Gaul, 5p B. C. 

The election of Julius Caesar to the consulship for the year 59, 
one of the fruits of the informal coalition known as the First Tri- 
umvirate, was a direct, if "not immediately recognized, challenge of 
the position which Pompey had held during the previous decade. 

The opportunity to lay a firm basis for his future career came 

104 piut., Pomp., 25, indicates collusion between Pompey and Gabihius ; Dio, 
XXXVI. 23, 24, suggests the same, although admitting that Gabinius may have 
acted from a desire to curry favor with Pompey. 

105 Perhaps a word should be said regarding the command of Metellus against 
the Cretans (68-67 B. C.). This has not been treated as an extraordinary com- 
mand, for it was a regular proconsular provincia. It was one of the provinces 
assigned by the Senate for the consuls of 69, and for which the latter drew lots. 
Hortensius obtained this as his province, but withdrew in favor of his colleague 
Metellus, who left Italy for Crete in 68 (Xiphil., p. 3, R. Steph. ; Drumann-Gr., 
II. 42). 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 17 

to Caesar through the death of Q. Metellus Celer, the proconsul of 
Cisalpine Gaul, in February, 59 B. C., 106 when there was prospect 
of a war breaking out in Transalpine Gaul in the near future. 107 
The Senate, in accordance with the Sempronian law, had allotted 
the consular provinces for 58 already. According to Suetonius, 108 
these were silvae collesque, spheres where no opportunity could 
arise to make the proconsuls dangerous to the Senate's authority. It 
was necessary to pass a special law to effect any change in these ar- 
rangements. And so Caesar secured the passing of the Lex Vatinia, 
which created for him an extraordinary command, including the 
vacant province of Cisalpine Gaul and thus involving the conduct of 
operations in case of any movement among the Gauls. 109 A senatus 
consultum, which sanctioned this law, increased the powers con- 
ferred by the latter. 110 

The Lex Vatinia, which was carried by a display of armed force 
on the part of Pompey, 111 gave Caesar the command of Illyricum 
and Cisalpine Gaul for a term of five years, with a garrison of three 
legions. 112 The senatus consultum, passed on a motion of Pompey, 
added Transalpine Gaul and one legion. 113 This command, as we 
have seen, extended for a period of five years. Therefore, since it 
terminated on March 1, 54 B. C., 114 it must have been reckoned from 
March 1, 59, and for the rest of the year 59 must have run con- 
currently with Caesar's consulship. 115 

The senatus consultum also gave Caesar the right to appoint 
legati at his discretion, 116 possibly of propraetorian rank, 117 and 
granted him money from the aerarium for his expenses. 118 

i°o Cic, Pro Caelio, 24, 59. 

i°7 Cic, De Divinatione, II. 41, 90; Ad Att., I. 19, 2. 

108 Jul., 19, 2. 

109 Suet., Jul., 22, 1 ; Dio, XXXVIII. 8, 5. 
no Ibid. 

111 Dio, XXXVII. 57, 2 ; Plut., Caes., 14 ; Zonaras, X. 6. 

112 Suet, Jul., 22, 1; Dio, XXXVIII. 8, 5; App., B. C, II. 13; Plut, 
Caes., 14, 6; Pomp., 48, 3; Cato Min., 33, 3; Veil. Pat, II. 44, 5; Oros., VI. 7, 1, 
giving seven legions; Eutrop., VI. 17, 1, ten legions; Zon., loc. cit.; all fail to 
distinguish the two separate conferments. 

us Cic., Ad Att., VIII. 3, 3; Suet, loc. cit.; Dio, loc. cit.; Oros., loc. cit. 
This included the Roman province later known as Gallia Narbonensis, Caesar, 
B. G., I. 10, s; VII. 1; VII. 6, 1, etc.; Liv., Per., 103; cf. Jullian, Histoire de la 
Gaule, III. 190; T. Rice Holmes, Conquest of Gaul (1899), pp. 21, 195, 823. 

11* Cic, De Prov. Cons., 15. 

ii' Hirschfeld, in Klio, IV. 176 (1904). 

11 6 Cic, De Prov. Cons., 17, 42 ; In Vat., 15, 36. 

11' B. G., Labienus, Caes., B. G., I. 21 ; cf. Momm., Staatsr., vol. II., pt 1, 
p. 657, note 1. 

us Cic, Ad Fam., I. 7, 10. 

AM. HIST. REV., VOL. XXIV. — 2. 



1 8 A. E. R. Book 

Throughout the year 59 Caesar held the imperium consulare, 
but after his abdication of the consulship on December 31 of that 
year, his imperium was pro consule. 

In 56 B. C. there was held the conference of Pompey, Caesar, 
and Crassus at Luca, which resulted in the extension of Caesar's 
command in Gaul and the extraordinary provincial commands of 
the two other members of this triumvirate. 119 

This prorogation of Caesar's imperium was granted by a law 
introduced by Pompey during the latter's second consulship, 55 
B. C. 120 The prorogation went into effect upon the expiration of the 
first term on March 1, 54. For the purpose of this study it is of no 
importance whether we consider that the duration of Caesar's sec- 
ond term was three 121 or five years, 122 or hold that no definite time 
limit was set, but only a provision introduced forbidding the dis- 
cussion of the appointment of his successor prior to March 1, 
50 B. C. 123 

(b) The Command of Crassus in Syria and the East, 55 B. C. 

One of the fruits of the conference of Luca was the election of 
Pompey and Crassus to the consulate for 55, and their subsequent 
appointment to proconsular commands which in importance rivalled 
Caesar's command of 59. 124 

During their consulship the tribune Gaius Trebonius, at their 
instigation, introduced a law which took the definition of their pro- 
consular commands out of the hands of the Senate and created two 
extraordinary commands for which the consuls subsequently drew 
lots. 125 This law met with bitter opposition from Cato and the sena- 
torial faction, and was only passed after a considerable display of 
force. 

The command which fell to the lot of Crassus included Syria and 
the war against the Parthians, with some authority over the adjacent 
provinces. 126 It was to last for five years, and gave him power to 

iis> App., B. C, II, 17; Suet., Jul., 24; Plut, Pomp., 51-52; Caes., 21; 
Crass., 14, 15. 

120 Veil. Pat., II. 46 : " lege quam Pompeius ad populura tulit ". 

121 Dio, XXXIX. 33. 

122 Veil. Pat., II. 46; Suet., Jul, 24; Plut., Pomp., 51-52; Caes., 21; Crass., 
15 ; App., B. C, II. 17, 63 ; II. 18, 65 ; and possibly Cic, Phil., II. io, 24 ; Ad Att., 
VII. 6, 2; Holzapfel, in Klio, IV. 327 f . ; V. 107 f. 

123 Hirschfeld, in Klio, IV. 75 ff. 

124 Suet., Jul., 24; Plut., Pomp., 51 ; Cato Min., 41. 

125 Liv., Per., 105; Plut., Pomp., 52; Cato Min., 43; Crass., 15; Dio, XXXIX. 
33, 2. 

12« Locc. citt.; and App., B. C, II. 18, 65; Dio, XXXIX. 33, 2; Crassus also 
had some designs on Egypt, Plut., Cato Min., 43. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 19 

raise armies of citizens and allies at will, to maintain naval forces, 
and to make war and peace with whomsoever he chose. 

As with Caesar in 59, Crassus's command for part of the year 
55 ran concurrently with his consulship, for Crassus left Rome for 
his province in the course of that year. 127 

We shall see that the province which fell to the lot of Pompey 
was no less important than that of Crassus. 

(c) Pompey 's Curatorship of the Corn Supply, 57 B. C. 

Although Pompey received the cura annonae in 57 B. C, I have 
postponed the discussion of it until after taking up the commands of 
Caesar and Crassus so as to trace more clearly the concentration of 
offices in Pompey 's hands up to 52 B. C. 

The inadequate arrangements for the maintenance of a regular 
grain supply for the city of Rome had resulted in a famine in 57- 12S 
The clamors of the mob induced the consuls to propose a law to 
entrust Pompey with the control of the grain traffic throughout the 
Roman world. 129 A rival measure, introduced by one Messius, 
would have conferred far greater powers upon him, but the former 
proposal, supported by Cicero, became law. 130 

By this law Pompey received the cura annonae, which Cicero 131 
describes as " omnis potestas rei f rumentariae toto orbe terrarum ", 
and which included the control of the ports, the markets, and the 
traffic in grain within the Roman dominions. 132 

His term of office was fixed at five years, 133 and he had the right 
to appoint fifteen legati. 1Si Within Italy and without he exercised 
an imperium pro consule, 136 which, in the provinces, was equivalent 
to the old imperium infinitum aequum which he had enjoyed in 67. 136 

Previously, Roman grain commissioners had lacked military 
authority, and probably in this case also the cura annonae was meant 
to be essentially a " food dictatorship ". But, owing to the military 

127 Plut., Pomp., 52. 

12s Dio, XXXIX. 9, 2 ; Plut., Pomp., 49. 

129 Dio, loc. cit.; Cic, Ad Att., IV. 1, 6, 7. Pompey was now reconciled with 
the Senate and Cicero. 

iso Cic, loc. cit. 

131 Ibid. 

M2 Plut., Pomp., 49 ; Dio, XXXIX. 9. 

133 Liv., Per., 104: " Cn. Pompeio per quinquennium annonae cura mandata 
est ". 

is* Cic, Ad Att., IV. 1, 6. 7. Cicero was the first appointed. 

135 Dio, XXXIX. 9. 

136 Messius had proposed " maius imperium, omnem pecuniae potestatem ", 
a fleet, and an army. Cic, Ad Att., IV. 1, 7. 



2o A. E. R. Boak 

power which it conferred, in Pompey's hands it became really an 
extraordinary command. There can scarcely be any doubt that 
Pompey, who was then without office or command, regarded it as an 
opportunity to acquire once more the military imperium, for the 
powers which he received were practically dictated by himself. His 
supporters looked upon this office in the same way and favored the 
proposal of Messius, which would have given Pompey the maius 
imperium in the provinces. 1ST 

(d) The Command of Pompey in Spain and Africa, 55 B. C. 

The circumstances which attended Pompey's appointment to his 
extraordinary provincial command in 55 B. C. have been recounted 
in connection with the command of Crassus received at the same 
time. 

By the Trebonian law of that year Pompey received Libya and 
the two Spanish provinces, with four legions. 138 His command com- 
menced in 55 B. C. and ran for five years, and he had the same pow- 
ers to raise armies from citizens and allies, to maintain naval forces, 
and to make war and peace, that Crassus enjoyed. 139 But, in addi- 
tion, Pompey was granted the privilege of remaining in Italy after 
the expiration of his consulship and of governing his provinces 
through legati. li0 This concession was made probably on account 
of his duties in connection with the cura annonae. 

This provincial command did not lapse until 51, but in 52, while 
in control of affairs at Rome, Pompey secured for himself an exten- 
sion of it for another five years, 141 in imitation of the prorogation of 
Caesar's imperium in 55. 

(e) The Position of Pompey in 52 B. C. 

In the year 52 B. C. Pompey reached the height of his official 
career. He was appointed sole consul to check the disorders in the 
city with which the Senate and the regular magistrates had proved 
unable to cope, and which had prevented the holding of the elections 
for the consulship of that year. 142 

Pompey was appointed by an interrex, in accordance with a de- 
cree of the Senate. 143 The idea had been entertained of making 

1ST Cic, loc. cit. ; cf. Momm., Staatsr. vol. II., pt. I, p. 672. 

138 Liv., Per., 105; App., B. C„ II. 18, 65; Plut., Pomp., 52; Crass., 15; Caes., 
28; Cato Min., 43; Dio, XXXIX. 33. 

139 Locc. citt. 

no Plut., Pomp., 53 ; Crass., 16 ; Cato Min., 45. 

1*1 Plut, Caes., 28, 5 ; Pomp., 55 (four years) ; Dio, XL. 56, 2. 

1*2 Liv., Per., 107 ; Dio, XL. 49, 50, 1 ; Plut., Pomp., 54. 

"3 Suet., Jul., 26; Plut., loc. cit.; Cato Min., 47; Dio, loc. cit. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 21 

Pompey a dictator, but it had been abandoned owing to the opposi- 
tion of Cato. 144 However, there was but little more than a differ- 
ence of title between the two positions, for, as Appian says, 145 he 
had the i$ov<riav SueraTopos, ap^iov /xovos, ttjv 8' evOwav vvdrov. The twenty - 
four lictors bearing axes within the pomerium and the exemption 
from being called to account for his conduct were all that Pompey 
lacked of the dictator's powers. As the dictator could choose his 
magister equitum, so Pompey was given the privilege of nominating 
a colleague after two months, if he so desired, with the sole restric- 
tion that this colleague should not be Caesar. 146 This was the first 
sole consulship in Roman history. 147 And Pompey's appointment 
to it was a violation of the law regulating re-election to the consul- 
ship, for, as he had been consul in 55, he was ineligible to hold that 
office again before 45 B. C. 

At the same time, Pompey was still in enjoyment of his control 
of the cura annonae and his extraordinary provincial command. 
And in this year he received a grant of one thousand talents annually 
from the aerarium for the upkeep of his legions. 148 

(/) Pompey's Status from 52 to 48 B. C. 

Pompey's cura annonae lapsed in the course of the year 52 B. C, 
and his consulship terminated at the close of the same year. How- 
ever, he still possessed his proconsular command and retained the 
privilege of remaining in Italy. 149 This proconsular status he re- 
tained until his death in 48, for his second term of office was not 
to terminate until the end of 47. 

However, in 49 Pompey received additional authority. The 
senatus consultum ultimum of January 7 authorized the consuls, 
praetors, tribunes of the plebs, and whatever proconsuls might be at 
Rome, to see to it that no harm overtook the state. 150 Of course 
Pompey was included among the proconsuls who were in the vicin- 
ity of Rome. 151 In addition to this general commission, he received 
specific authority from the consuls to march against Caesar with the 
army then at Capua and elsewhere in Italy, besides such additional 

144 pi ut . ( Caes., 28, 5. 
"5 B. C, II. 23, 84. 

146 Plut., Pomp., 54; Dio, XL. 50, 4. 

147 Liv., Per., 107 ; Dio, XL. 50, 5. 

148 Plut., Pomp., 55 ; Dio, XI. 56, 2. 

149 Plut., Pomp., 55. 

150 Caes., B. C, I. 5 : " dent operam consules, praetores, tribuni plebis, quique 
consulares sunt ad urbem, ne quid respublica detriment! capiat " ; Dio, XLI. 3. 

151 Liv., Per., 109 : " mandatum est a senatu consulibus et Cn. Pompeio, ut 
viderent, ne quid respublica detrimenti caperet ". 



22 A. E. R. Book 

troops as he might raise. 152 Further, the Senate authorized him to 
raise 130,000 troops in Italy, besides contingents from the allies of 
Rome, and to use all the public resources and accept private contri- 
butions for military purposes. 153 

Throughout the campaign against Caesar Pompey conducted 
himself as the nominal subordinate of the consuls, for their im- 
perium was higher than his, 154 but, actually, owing to his military 
experience and prestige, he was in supreme command of the Senate's 
forces. 155 

From the above consideration of the Leges Vatinia, Trebonia, 
and Pompeia we see that after 60 B. C. the Comitia exercised an 
undisputed right to create extraordinary commands and to confer 
them upon whomsoever it pleased. The Senate merely confirmed 
the action of the Comitia, or, as in the case of the Lex Vatinia, in- 
creased the powers thus conferred. The exercise of this right by 
the Comitia involved a repeated usurpation of the Senate's control 
over the assignment of the provinces, especially those designated 
as consular in successive years. This had previously occurred for 
the benefit of Marius in 107 B. C, but in 74 it was the Senate alone 
which had rearranged the provincial assignments in the interests of 
Lucullus and Cotta. 

With the exception of the imperium infinitum aequum revived 
by the cura annonae, the extraordinary commands of this period 
took the form of special proconsular governorships, embracing sev- 
eral regular provinces and extending for a term of five years. 156 
They found their model in Lucullus's command of 74 B. C, although 
this lacked the definite time-limit. Such commands, once created, 
could be extended by the same authority that established them, 
namely a law of the Comitia. 

Finally, we have seen that Pompey had proved unable to retain 
a monopoly of the important extraordinary commands. The path 
by which he had advanced to his commands of the preceding decade 
was open to others also, and Julius Caesar obtained his command 
in Gaul through the support of the tribunate and the city populace. 

In this way, as we have seen, between 80 and 48 B. C. the extra- 
ordinary command developed from an unusual to a regular feature 
of Rome's imperial government. And along with this development 

152 App., B. C, II. 31. 

153 App., B. C, II. 34; Dio, XLI. 3. 

161 E. g., App., B. C, II. 36; Dio, XLI. 12. 

155 Dio, XLI. 43, 5. 

156 Mommsen has pointed out that the Lex Vatinia was the first law to ex- 
tend a proconsular command beyond one year and at the same time to limit it 
definitely, Staatsr., I. 596. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 23 

there arose the following characteristic ideas associated with the 
extraordinary imperium: the extension of the military command 
for longer than annual periods, the grouping of several ordinary 
provinces under one imperium, the absence of the holder of such a 
command from his provincia and the delegation of his authority to 
lieutenants, the exercise, of the supreme command at sea in the form 
of the imperium infinitum, and the existence of a general imperium 
maius outside of the regular magistracies. All these ideas, as 
Mommsen 157 points out, find expression in the organization of the 
Principate. 

IV. Pompey the Forerunner of Augustus 

From 28 to 23 B. C. the power of Augustus was based upon (1) 
the consulship, held annually, and (2) an imperium consulare 
granted for ten years. His provincia included one-half of the Roman 
provinces and all the armed forces of Rome, on land and sea alike. 
Thus he. held the chief magistracy in the city and, at the same 
time, had an imperium infinitum, which was superior (maius) to that 
of all proconsuls and propraetors, for he wielded this imperium as 
a consul. 158 In other words, Augustus was consul and held an ex- 
traordinary command besides. This latter because of its extent and 
its continuity made him the real ruler of the state, for it vested in 
him alone the supreme command of the Roman armies. 

Now, as we have seen, at two separate moments in his career 
Pompey succeeded in procuring for himself powers almost equal to 
those of Augustus. In 66 B. C, by virtue of the Gabinian and 
Manilian laws, he possessed an imperium effective over the sea and 
its shores for fifty miles inland and over the provinces in the region 
affected by the Mithradatic War. This gave him the control of 
practically all the armed forces of Rome outside of Italy. 159 But 
his power was restricted by the limitation of his command at sea to 
three years, and by the fact that he held no official position at Rome. 
Further, he held his imperium pro consule, and thus it was an 
imperium aequum with respect to the provincial governors. 

In 52 B. C. Pompey had even greater power concentrated in his 
hands. He was consul (for a time sole consul), and had a provincia 
embracing Spain, Libya, and the sphere assigned to him with the 
cura annonae. In this year his imperium was no longer aequum but 
maius, for he exercised it as consul. Further, he had the same right as 

157 Staatsr., II. 662. 

158 Pelham, "The Imperium of Augustus", Essays, pp. 60-71. 

159 App., B. M., 97 : a-Tpartas re wd<njs, S/rri wtpav i<rrl ttjs 'IroXks, ipxeiv iSaicav. 



24 A. E. R. Boak 

Augustus to govern his provinces through legati of his own appoint- 
ment. His provincial command extended for two periods of five 
years, and in 52 his cur a annonae lapsed after one such term. Con- 
sequently his contemporaries justly referred to him as the First 
Citizen (prince ps). ieo 

Thus we see that the position of Augustus between 28 and 23 
B. C. was not much more than a continuation of the status of 
Pompey in 52. The essential differences were this very continuity 
and the wider scope of the imperium of Augustus, which made him 
the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces of Rome. The 
permanence of his power was in this way practically assured. His 
imperium, however, like that of Pompey, was conferred for a defi- 
nite term only, by the Senate and the Comitia, 161 the source of 
Pompey's power. 

From 23 B. C. until his death in 14 A. D., the main props of 
the authority of Augustus were (1) his extraordinary imperium, 
held for successive terms, and (2) the tribunicia potestas, which 
he had held before but which he had not emphasized, in view of the 
fact that he had been consul each year. 162 When he resigned the 
consulship in that year, he made good the loss of power thus incurred 
at Rome, by bringing into play the tribunicia potestas, supplemented 
by certain privileges added by laws of the next few years. But 
when he ceased to be consul his imperium was no longer the maius 
imperium, for, being held pro consule only, it no longer outranked 
that of the proconsular governors. Hence special laws were passed 
defining his imperium as maius and effective within the city as well 
as without. 163 This restored to Augustus the consular imperium 
which he had held from 28 to 23. 164 This imperium was renewed 
in 18 and 13 B. C. for five-year periods; in 8 B. C, 3 A. D., and 13 
A. D. for ten-year terms. 165 

Thus we see that the imperium infinitum mains, which was the 
true basis of the power of the Princeps, was not the creation of 
Augustus. It was Pompey's goal in his endeavor to establish him- 
self as the permanent commander-in-chief of the Roman armies. 
For a short time in 52 B. C. it was almost within his grasp, but he 
never obtained it in its fullness. Brutus and Cassius had it con- 

160 Cic, Ad. Fam., I. 9, 11 (December, 54). 

161 Pelham, Essays, p. 60, note 3 ; cf. Momm., Staatsr., vol. II., pt. 2, p. 745, 
note 2. 

162 Pelham, Essays, p. 71 ff. 
i«3 Dio, LIII. 32. 

164 Pelham, Essays, p. 71 ff. 

165 Pelham, p. 60 ff. 



The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B. C. 25 

ferred upon them by the Senate in the crisis of 43/2 B. C. 166 But it 
was left for Augustus to develop it as the solution of the military 
problem of the empire with which the senatorial regime had failed 
to cope. It was characteristic of Augustus that he should thus con- 
vert into one of the pillars of the Principate a power which had the 
sanction of constitutionality and to which the Senate itself had had 
resort in the struggle to maintain its prerogatives. 

A. E. R. Boak. 

i«6 App., B. C, IV. 58; cf. Moram, Staatsr., II. 655.